Oak Lawn Student Diagnosed With Meningitis

Bacterial Meningitis Not Highly Contagious

Officials of a southwest suburban school district are urging parents to watch their children's health closely after a student was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis Thursday.

The Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 received word late Thursday afternoon that a student at Oak Lawn Hometown Middle School had fallen ill with the disease, Superintendent Kathleen McCord said. Notices were sent home with students and a phone alert was sent to all numbers in the system Thursday.

Bacterial meningitis is not highly contagious. Catching it requires direct contact with an infected person's saliva, the district wrote in the notice. Less commonly, the disease can spread through tiny droplets from an infected person's sneeze or cough.

Hearing that the disease is serious but not easily spread, "made us feel terrible for the child, but better about the health of our other students," McCord said.

While school officials don't believe any students were exposed to the disease, they are recommending parents watch children for signs of meningitis. Stiff neck, fever and headache are the most common symptoms, and nausea, vomiting and a rash may also develop.

If a child exhibits any of those symptoms, parents should seek medical treatment and contact the Cook County Health Department at 708-492-2150.

Copyright CHIST - SunTimes
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